The lady in blue alighted from the bus in a small village on a cold rainy island in the Northern half of earth. There was a little row of shops from which men, women, and children would flit in and out. She smiled at a little girl who was shopping with her mother that Sunday afternoon. The child blushed and hid behind her mother’s arm. Her blue dress was the blueest blue there had ever been. Many of the children who saw her that day told their parents and grandparents about it.
“It was like the sea, or the sky on a very clear day.”
“None of my crayons are like that, not even if I used a whole one to draw it. It would never be blue enough.”
One young lad of six told his great-grandpa about it just later that day. By the fire as the old man was dozing little Mickey sat on his lap and told her about the lady in the blue dress.
“It covered her sleeves and her neck even though it was a bright warm day.” Mickey said.
“Perhaps she was cold, like grandma. She is always cold.” Papa said.
“Yes but she did not look cold.” Mickey said.
“What did she look like?” Papa said.
“The dress was blue Papa, blue like mommy sometimes draws.” Mickey said.
Wilfred sat up and was wide awake at Mickey’s words. His heart fluttered at the words and suddenly his aches and pains were forgotten as an old hurt resurfaced.
“Tell me everything about her, did you see where she went?” He asked.
The lady did not go far. She took up board in a small bed and breakfast after extracting money from an ATM using the borrowed sonic device.
In the morning, she found the house easily enough and knocked four times. A boy opened the door as she knew he would. At that moment the little boy’s father was at work taking his first coffee break and his mother was doing a bit of shopping in town. He looked inquiringly up at her and then rushed back into the house calling his papa.
She heard the labored footsteps of the old stargazer and smiled a small smile. At the very least, she would see old friends. He opened the door wider and much like his great grandson peered at her.
“Hello Wilfred.” She said.
“Hello Miss, we’ve been expecting you.”
Mickey quickly lost interest in the lady in the blue dress. She was just another friend of his Papa’s. She tapped her leg on the floor as she spoke to him. Like his mother, she too seemed to have more to say than could possibly be said.
“How is the Doctor Donna?” She said.
“What? Oh she’s fine. She had Mickey now but the flashbacks still come. Less now. I suppose that is a good thing.” He said.
“We missed her. There are songs of her still, across the universe.” She said.
“So you are?”
“The TARDIS, well the matrix of the TARDIS. Think of a soul, not a soul, but think of one anyway. I am the soul of the TARDIS in a human body.”
“Is that possible? Did he send you?”
“Well, where is he? Where is the doctor?”
“I do not know Wilfred. He left me. He is not hiding or waiting or off on a foolish haunt. He has left, the doctor has stopped and I must have him back.”
“But I don’t understand. He’s the doctor, he always comes.”
She looked at the wrinkled man who to her seemed like a baby. His eyes were so like the eyes of all the people who had met the doctor. Full of faith and the unshakable resolve that when the hour came, so would he. She wished that it was them she needed. That their love could bring him back to her.
“You were a soldier in one of the worst wars the universe has ever seen. It made you a peace loving man but it left a mark on you. Can you imagine the scars left by the wars the doctor has fought? He has died again and again. He has been abandoned by those he loves. And he loves them still, all of them. So, so much. I saw him mourn them all and none more than your grand daughter. The darkness grew on him, taunted him. And what beat him at last was no great foe, or cataclysm event, not even another lost friend. He was afraid. He did not let him take me anywhere new and could not stand to see the old. There were stories of a man in a blue box through all of time, they said that he was a death omen. They fled at the sound of me. It tortured him, I think that is the word. The only thing worse than the doctor travelling alone is the doctor alone and not travelling.”
Wlfred’s eyes shimmered with tears, tears of indignation at the absurdity of the doctor as a death omen and grief of a doctor afraid and alone.
“What do we do?”
“I’ve been assisted by others. If only he knew how he was loved. The people at torchwood made me this body and now I come to you not for help but for permission. And I am so, so sorry to have to ask Wilfred.”
“I’ll do anything.”
He meant it too but as he looked into the sad omniscient eyes of the lady, the truth dawned on him and sent a chill down his bent spine.
“But he said she would burn. Even if she remembered for a second.”
“Yes, but I have been sitting in a cold, muddy field for decades thinking. Thinking about Donna Noble, who just got on the train. I was there when she saved the universe, there when she erased and then rewrote time, there as she slowly but surely fixed the doctor. She does not simply bear a time lord consciousness. She holds the doctor’s consciousness. She will call him home.”
“But what happens to Donna?”
“I believe in her strength and she is even stronger now, with young Mickey.”
“Who are you to decide? And if you are his ship, why can’t you got get him?”
“I have tried and failed.”
“But the doctor always comes.”
“Take my hand Wilfred, let me show you why I come.”
Wilfred, who at this time was standing and shouting at the seated lady in blue, hesitated but took her surprisingly warm hand. It was just the two of them in the living room as Mickey had gone out to play.
The room before him dissolved as did the lady’s face and replacing them were visions of the ruins of civilizations, conquered worlds, and the haggard, defeated faces of beings across the galaxies. All who knew of him cried for the doctor. Wilfred’s hand fell away from the lady’s as tears now fell on his cheeks in earnest.
There was the sound of the door unlocking and a woman’s voice calling from the hall.
“Grandad! Did you know that Mickey is down the street playing elbow deep in mud as happy as a… Are you crying? And who is this? Who are you?”
Wilfred took a seat and invited his grand daughter who was still frowning at the lady and her spectacularly blue dress to do the same.
He said, “This is an old friend of mine. Yours too, but you don’t remember her.”
“Old friend? She looks about sixteen.” Donna said.
“She’s more of a friend of a friend and she needs your help.” Wilfred said.
“If it’s money she wants absolutely not. Honestly, will people never stop asking us for money? The lottery was ten years ago!” Donna said.
“I don’t want your money Donna. I need you to help me find my friend.” The lady said.
“And how am I supposed to do that?” Donna asked.
“He’s very special, he will know the moment you remember and he will come.”
“Remember? What are you on about? Listen sweetheart, I’m sorry your boyfriend did a runner but just because granddad is a sucker for a love story doesn’t mean I am.”
The lady grinned, “Oh but we missed you Donna Noble.”
“I’m not Noble anymore.”
“Listen Donna, it is important that you don’t panic. The memories will be forceful. I need you to be brave now, as brave as you were waiting for me to streak across the sky.”
The lady interrupted Donna for her body was losing strength and she needed it if Donna needed her. The doctor would never forgive her but she knew that there were worse things.
“I will sing you a song, the most wonderful song in the universe. The song of the Ood.”
She found the correct register and started to hum while mustering the resolve to see it through no matter what happened. Donna’s puzzled expression changed into one of discomfort and then pain. The lady hoped that Wilfred’s presence as a non-threat would prevent the automatic defense from firing. Her anguished eyes turned to her grandfather and then became blank at the onslaught of information.
The lady continued to sing even as Donna fell on her knees to the floor and nails dug into her hair. She went on even as Wilfred begged her to stop. Even as her failing heart broke at causing the family more pain, she sang on. She went on her knees, grabbed a writhing Donna, and looked directly into her eyes.
“The Doctor Donna, one last time, save the universe.” She said.
The lady showed Donna a vision as well, not of devastation and fire but of the schism through which was seen the time vortex. Donna calmed as she looked into it and the deluge became manageable. This would define her future and the future of the universe. The lady was weakened and could not sustain the trip with Donna so they fell back to the large living room in the small village. Wilfred was there still and next to him stood Donna’s confused and bewildered husband.
A clear eyed Donna looked back at her, exhausted and scheduled for an epic headache later, but fine.
“He’s coming.” Donna said.
“I know that too.”